Charlie LeDuff on Dignity in the Motor City Muckraker

For most of his journalistic career, Charlie LeDuff explored the lives of drug addicts, criminals and the destitute… His young sister, Nicole, caught up in drugs and prostitution on Detroit’s west side, was killed after jumping out of a speeding car.

LeDuff and his mom eventually visited the dive bar, The Flame, where Nicole had downed drinks with dope dealers, hookers and swindlers.

“We didn’t pay for a drink the rest of the night,” LeDuff recalled. “Whatever you’re going to think about people like my sister – or your own relatives out there, you have them – wherever she went, her crowd had respect for her. There’s something dignified in every human being, and when people ask why I write about the things I write about, that’s why – because I come from that, and there is dignity in everybody.”

Charlie LeDuff on Dignity in the Motor City Muckraker

Why Book Buying Stats Might Stifle the Next Great Author

Given the pressure to reduce costs, something had to give in the formerly genteel world of book publishing, and it’s not the publishers…

Many mid-list authors have fallen victim to increasingly sophisticated, widely available sales data, according to agents and publishers. Publishers can now assess every author’s lifelong sales thanks to such services as Nielsen Bookscan in the United States and BookNet Canada.

And once reduced to pure numbers, those track records determine the fate of proven writers looking for cash advances to begin their next books…

The upheaval is such that an author like Dan Brown “would never get published now, because his first three books sold nothing,” Bukowski said. But as everybody knows, Brown’s fourth novel, The Da Vinci Code, has sold more than 80-million copies.

Even when they agree to publish the fourth book of a mid-list author, publishers today hedge their bets by paying minimal advances based on past sales of the author’s work.

Why Book Buying Stats Might Stifle the Next Great Author

“The Angels Look Too Gay”

Because it involves keywords “angel” and “gay,” (As does my novel Angel) I stumbled across this story from 2010 about a priest in Santo Domingo who wanted to destroy a mural in his parish because the angels look “too gay.”  This happened in 2010, and I did some basic searching to try to figure out what ever happened, but I didn’t find any follow up stories.  Anyone know if the priest got his way?

“The Angels Look Too Gay”

Five Stages of Grief Following the Publication of Your First Book: The Awl

I loved the title to this article, which was picked up by Publisher’s Weekly’s twitter feed.  The article itself didn’t impress me as much, but I think most writers know, and most non-writers probably do not, that publishing a book— especially one that matters a lot to the writer, is often a grief process.

All of the hope and expectation that a writer had during the creation process comes crashing into the reality of a glutted marketplace.  Imagining possibilities makes people happy.  Recognizing limitations is a small death requiring a mourning period.

Five Stages of Grief Following the Publication of Your First Book: The Awl

Turning the Tables: Why Conservative Christianity Bears the Burden of Proof

What I want to challenge is the persistent and difficult-to-kill assumption that conservatives occupy some kind of religious and ethical high ground, and that any deviation from a particular kind of conservative orthodoxy isn’t merely a matter of interpretation, but is tantamount to initiating hostilities against God, motherhood, and the flag—all of which, interestingly enough, are conflated in some people’s minds. But that’s another article.

The smug certainty with which some conservative religious and political types believe not just that they occupy the side of truth on every issue, but that they occupy the side of God’s truth is alarming—not because they believe these things of themselves so uncritically (self-righteousness is a time-honored religious and political posture on both sides of the ideological divide, after all), but because so many in the culture agree to cede them this authoritative land of milk and honey….

I am weary of playing defense against fundamentalism, as if it holds some sort of privileged theological position that requires a special deference, as well as the expectation of an explanation from those who would deviate.

It’s not that I resent having to come clean about my own hermeneutical presuppositions, to be required to set down the story I’m telling about how I interpret scripture. What makes me unutterably weary is the popular assumption that a fundamentalist reading of scripture is somehow the hermeneutical true north by which all interpretations are to be judged. The assertion that the bible is to be read in a common sense fashion, as close to literally as possible, is not only itself merely one interpretative strategy among other strategies, it’s also a fairly recent development in the history of interpretation.

Turning the Tables: Why Conservative Christianity Bears the Burden of Proof

More Goofing Off and Daydreaming: More Creative Thinking

“This can be one of the trickiest parts of being a writer, this need to fool around to be creative, and to be okay with that.” From her book A Year of Writing Dangerously.

In his post In Praise of Goofing Off, psychologist Dennis Palumbo notes, “Some people call it puttering, or screwing around, or just plain goofing off. Others, of a more kindly bent, call it day-dreaming. Kurt Vonnegut used the quaint old term ‘skylarking.’


“What I’m referring to, of course, is that well-known, rarely discussed but absolutely essential component of a successful creative person’s life — the down-time, when you’re seemingly not doing anything of consequence. Certainly not doing anything that pertains to that deadline you’re facing: the pitch meeting set for next week, the screenplay you’ve been toiling over, the important audition that’s pending.”

More Goofing Off and Daydreaming: More Creative Thinking